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Suspended Bothell physician confronts his alma mater, defends his practice

John Catanzaro - Courtesy photo
John Catanzaro
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Bothell naturopathic physician Dr. John Catanzaro sent a letter to Bastyr University, confronting them about what he calls "negative attacks" against him in the media regarding his suspension.

Catanzaro is the founder and president of the Health and Wellness Institute in Bothell. He is facing charges for allegedly duping cancer patients into treatment with an unapproved experimental vaccine by the Washington State Department of Health Board of Naturopathy.

Catanzaro appealed his suspension and is waiting for a scheduled hearing to take place.

"The reason I am writing to you about this matter is that this battle is not just about defending my license," Catanzaro wrote. "It is more about addressing the government limiting the treatment choices in cancer to conventional practices and creating significant limitations and severe adverse reactions to those organizations that choose to think outside of conventional medicine to try and find treatment and cures in an individualized/personalized style of health care. The field of natural medicine needs your support now more than ever."

Catanzaro states the words a few Bastyr employees have said about him in the media are offensive.

"I am not some quack physician who barely made it through school and operates some hole-in-the-wall medicine man type establishment bilking innocent and suffering patients out of their money as I have been portrayed," he wrote. "I find Bastyr University's comments to the media regarding my work in the cancer arena and absolute failure to support me unconscionable and egregious! Simply put, in spite of my life-time dedication to the field of natural medicine, Bastyr University and natural medicine continue to remain relatively obscure only because of the absolute failure of the deans, professors and staff and the university at large to support the visionaries in this field."

Catanzaro reminds Bastyr of his credentials and stated he is working to find a new way to help cancer patients. Catanzaro served on the Bastyr University Institutional Review Board, but Bastyr would not confirm if he was still serving on the board.

"I have both rejoiced and shed tears over the years with each individual cancer patient as some were restored to complete health through natural medicine and others have passed on in spite of my efforts," he wrote. "With each cancer patients passing I have renewed my hope and quest to find answers and with each success I have shared the results and research with colleagues in the field of medicine. Bringing hope to those without it is my passion. Yet despite these efforts, I am thwarted and undermined by the very entity that claims to support such revolutionary thinking and alternative treatment in the medical arena."

Bastyr University employees declined commenting on Catanzaro's letter.

“Bastyr University has no further comment on this ongoing investigation,” said Derek Wing, associate director of media at Bastyr.

Also in his letter, Catanzaro accuses an oncologist at Swedish Medical Center of turning him in to the department of health after they lost a patient to him. The patient was battling stage 4 breast cancer and wanted to try Catanzaro's personalized treatment plan instead of utilizing Swedish's resources.

"The patient had gone back to the same oncologist (director of the breast center) and informed her of what she was doing for treatment and this oncologist reported me to the DOH without consulting with me," Catanzaro wrote. "She stated that I was doing an unethical form of treatment on this patient and other patients that she was aware of."

Catanzaro said he is most upset his efforts to help patients have been put on hold. He has had to throw away around 15 patient treatments following a cease and desist order from the state.

"These patients are all stage 4 cancer cases with serious threat to life if not given their treatment," Catanzaro wrote."The cost to my patients and organization has been astronomical. However, the greater cost has been having to face each of my patients and inform them that despite their desire to assert their constitutional right to treat their bodies as they so choose, the State of Washington has determined that they no longer have that right."

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